The Shape of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Seventh International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

The Shape of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Seventh International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

The Shape of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Seventh International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

The Shape of the Fantastic: Selected Essays from the Seventh International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

Synopsis

This study collects 25 essays on the fantastic as portrayed in literature and visual art. In five sections: "Discovery and Interpretation," "Inexplicable Reality," "Marvelous Beings," "Fantasy in Symbiosis with Other Forms," and "From Fantasy to Science Fiction: Critical Considerations," scholars examine fantasy in works by Mark Strand, Hawthorne, Kafka, and Tolkien, among others. Beasts, angels, grotesques, and more are analyzed and a selected bibliography of relevant criticism that complements each essay's bibliography completes the volume.

Excerpt

This volume examines the various shapes that the fantastic takes in mainstream and in fantasy literature, discovers its traces in the works of authors from a variety of national literatures, looks into the world of science fiction literature and film, and even peeks into the world of art as one article follows the changing shape of angels.

The first five essays reveal some surprising elements of fantasy in works and authors. Lance Olsen finds varieties of fantasy in Mark Strand's poetry and Leonard G. Heldreth in E. M. Forster's short fiction. Scott Friesner's article makes us go back to Nathaniel Hawthorne Custom House and see fantasy lurking there and not just in the magical letter "A" glowing on Dimmesdale's chest. James S. Whitlark interprets Franz Kafka story "A Country Doctor" as a neoromantic fairy tale, while Brian Attebery analyzes the entire postmodernism movement in terms of the fantastic elements.

The next five essays deal with works that contain an inexplicable reality. More than mere hocus-pocus, each of these works deals with a fantastic occurrence that perhaps can have a scientific basis, but the scientific explanation is too tenuous to be definitive. Richard Gage, Julia Cruz, Grant Crichfield, and Nancy M. Kason each deal with authors who explore death as a mysterious puzzle that disrupts the accepted, logical, normal order of death as the end. In Henry James's story a dead girl is lived with as if she were alive; in Julio Cortazar's a man lives an experience while he is dead; in Théophile Gautier's the protagonist lives the past as if it existed on par with the present; in Leopoldo Lugones's the main mystery is how death came about. Colin Manlove in his essay deals with this elusiveness of fantasy, encompassing its many shapes through a variety of authors and works.

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